Tips for driving in winter weather

By Bob Atoo
November 5, 2014

Now that the early dark nights have arrived and the traditional British weather has blown its way onto our doorsteps, this can cause headache for the drivers.

The darker evenings and colder temperatures require a little more care and preparation for your journeys to keep us safe.

Below we’ve put together some top tips to help you stay safe when driving in adverse weather conditions this winter…

winter driving

Heavy rain and flooding

Driving in the rain is dangerous at the best of times, but you do have a better chance of staying safe with a little preparation. Drivers who believe they are the most experienced can also be caught off guard when it comes to heavy rain and surface water. Did you know that stopping distances can increase to double the distance in wet weather?

Even the UK’s newest roads can hold a lot of surface water, increasing the possibility of skidding, as well as reducing your visibility. If you do find your steering light and uncontrollable, ease off the accelerator and gradually slow down as being harsh on the breaks could cause you to be in more danger.

In recent years we’ve suffered a lot more rain and flooding and though people don’t realise it, driving through deep water can seriously damage your car engine. Many fully comprehensive car insurance policies cover flood damage to your vehicle, however, this is often excluded if you deliberately drive through flooded areas rather than waiting for the water to subside which could invalidate your insurance.

wet weather driving

Wet weather advice

  • The highway code states that you must use headlights when visibility is reduced, generally around 100 metres. Front or rear fog lights can also be used but must be switched off when visibility improves.
  • Check that your windscreen wipers are not worn or damaged, replacing them when needed.
  • Increase the distance you leave between your car and the car in front of you. Stopping distances are increased on wet roads.
  • You feel the steering has gone light and unresponsive, softly ease off the accelerator and slow down gradually.
  • Driving at speed through standing water is dangerous. Your tyres can lose contact with the road’s surface and cause you to lose control of the steering. This is the term known as ‘aquaplaning’. If you find yourself in this situation, lightly hold the steering wheel and lift your foot off the accelerator. The tyres will regain their grip again.

icy road

Icy Conditions

As with the increased rains and floods, the country has also experienced increased snow and plummeting temperatures in recent years and many people are not used to driving in these conditions.

Key points to remember:

  • It is advised that during winter you keep emergency items in your vehicle in case you break down. Useful items are blankets, extra clothing, a torch, water and non-perishable food and even a shovel if you are in an area where you could get caught in snow.
  • Keep your driveways and paths clear. Put down grit where you would normally walk to and from your car. A good substitute for grit is cat litter!
  • Black ice can cause major problems on the roads in the winter. It is very difficult to spot, often being found in more shaded areas of the road and when the temperatures are freezing or below. If you think the road looks wet but there is no apparent spray from rain, it is very likely that it is black ice so take extra care.
  • Drive slowly and carefully. If you are required to drive in snow as a last resort, drive in a high gear as slowly as possible.
  • Keep your fuel topped up as well as making sure your battery life is strong. The extra power your battery needs to heat your car will take its toll.
  • Make sure you have adequate Antifreeze in your engine to stop it freezing.
  • Keep your windscreen washer topped up with screen wash.

It’s best to avoid driving in adverse weather conditions unless absolutely essential and if you do have to – always take extra care!

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